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DC Armory
by Artemis

There's a lot of things Supergirl needs - friends, a home, therapy, a good smack in the head - but normally armor isn't one of them.

As the other half of the "Dynamic Duo of Kandor," Flamebird Supergirl aids her fellow superheroine by posing as the mythic Kryptonian persona of Flamebird in Supergirl #6.

I don't recall the comic ever explaining how Power Girl ended up holding Supergirl's leash on her jaunt into Kandor, but it's a fair bet that a short straw was involved. True to form Kara sulked, whined, lashed out, procrastinated, flip-flopped and responsibility-dodged her way through the mission, and now she's got an action figure to commemorate it. What a hero for the young girls! It's no wonder the bio on the packaging skirts around what actually happened - I guess "Supergirl loafed around getting temporary tattoos and beating up people to let off steam" wouldn't be a great selling point.

Flamebird and Nightwing wore similar costumes, I guess that's what a flamebird looks like? and Ed Benes can't really draw more than one type of female physique, so it's no great drawback that this figure and Nightwing are substantially the same sculpt, with superficial touches and paint telling them apart. For the most part it works well enough - as well as the red areas on the torso and the gold adornments, the use of dark steel instead of gloss black on the armour sets Flamebird apart quite nicely (though in the comic, both armors had the same appearance, a glossy blue-black), but there's one major problem: her chest.

Supergirl has pretty much the standard early-20s-model physique that passes for a superheroine these days, ''Mine are bigger.'' ''Oh yeah, well mine are still perkier.'' but in deference to her supposed age she's not large in the chest, and even Benes managed to make her a bit smaller than her partner. DC Direct evidently didn't get the memo though, because Flamebird's bust is about the same size as Nightwing's - and let me remind you, Nightwing is Power Girl. To make matters worse, the design of the chest is wrong - the red sections should just be on the sides of her breasts, but instead they cover the majority of them, and extend all the way up over her shoulders. Combined with the spine-wrenching superheroine pose she's sporting, it leaves her with a vast expanse of upper chest/shoulder on display, so her boobs look not only too big, but somewhat droopy as well. That's what she gets for not wearing a bra, I guess (somewhere, Hal Jordan just excused himself to visit the bathroom).

The wings are impressive, but to be honest they could have been a lot more so. Like Nightwing, the contorted spinal posture means the joints are angled downward, inflexible and the wings extend upwards as well as backwards from the balls, so they can only lift up so high - the inward-curved sculpt of the wings would actually look very good if they were spread backward, curving down, but that's not an option. In the comic of course they acted like real wings, spreading out and contracting as needed, and while the choice to sculpt a single position into the wings here, rather than try to articulate them, maximizes the smoothness of the sculpt, the choice to have them folded rather than spread is an odd one. Even folded Flamebird's wings had a fairly wide inner section before the edges started dropping down, but these don't - it's difficult to make them look powerful or purposeful, rather than just like functionless adornments stuck on her back.

The Flamebird helmet is rendered accurately, but let's be honest, it's a bit of a generic-looking design, Kara, plus about seven years so I imagine most people will display her with her hat off. The unmasked Supergirl head is (to my knowledge) a new sculpt, and quite a good one except for the fact that it doesn't really look much like Supergirl, besides being female and blonde. The expression is one of calm and confidence, where Kara's more inclined to a petulant scowl, and this face looks somewhere in her twenties, rather than sixteen. I'd actually like it if Supergirl did look like this, but she doesn't, so if you care about accuracy that's a minus. The paint job on the head is essentially identical to Nightwing's - same skin tone, lips, eyes, hair colour, bad wash and all.

Fortunately, unless you're bothered by the armor being silver instead of blue-black, the only paint flaw on the rest of her is that her gloves should be red but aren't. Otherwise she's a good job from neck to toe - some minor deviation from the line on the red/black border on her chest, this is what she wears to do her laundry but nothing to worry about, and the red is strong and clean, the black solid, the gold even and consistent between the cast-in-colour belt and knees and the painted zipper, and the bare steel is a good colour choice well implemented, bringing out the sculpted detail without making the figure too bright and shiny. There's no shading on the wings like Nightwing has, but the use of a metallic there gives definition to the plates in its place.

Articulation-wise, Flamebird is a bit more restricted than Nightwing. The neck is a balljoint, but both heads limit its usefulness a lot, the bare head with its long hair, the helmet with its long tail covering the back of the neck. The shoulders are balljoints, the elbows and knees pins, the hips pegs and the wings are mounted on balljoints, limited as mentioned above by the angle of the back. The hips and knees are quite well-hidden - along with the protruding armor edge, there's the separate gold belt covering the seams in two places, and from the front the stuck-on knee-plates hide the joints.

Besides the swappable heads Flamebird has the standard she needs this "Armory" base, and by Krypton, she needs it! Her wings are larger and heavier than Nightwing's, and with only one peg on the base, a lot of weight is resting on that slim right knee. It's lightly ratcheted, but the mass of the figure will overcome the upright ratchet position fairly easily, and lean the joint back to the start of the next position, with the leg slightly bent. You'd be well-advised to pay close attention to how stable her pose is when you stand her - and if possible, lightly rest the backs of her wings against something behind her to keep her weight from resting on the joint alone.

Kara's many and varied failings as a superhero aside, this could have been quite a striking figure - the colour scheme of the armor was strong, the wings gave a very powerful look, and the wise decision to have alternate heads meant you wouldn't be stuck with the dumb helmet. Even though I've gone on about the inaccuracies of her chest, I think it's the wings that hurt this figure the most - not because they look bad, but because if they were spread, or even sculpted closer to the wider design used in the comics, they'd look so much better.

My God! It's like looking in a mirror!


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